Posted: Friday March 10, 2006 8:11PM; Updated: Thursday March 16, 2006 10:36AM
Although the J.J. Redick-Adam Morrison duel has been a storyline during the season, if Gonzaga flames out early in the tournament do you think anyone will really remember it? College seasons are usually defined by March, and if UConn wins the title and Gonzaga loses in the second round, I don't think anyone will be talking about Redick and Morrison in a few years (especially if Redick's NBA career resembles Mike Dunleavy's).
Stewart Mandel made this exact same argument recently, and while Stew's the man on most things, I couldn't disagree with him more on this topic. It all depends on your worldview of college basketball. Stew represents a large segment of sports fans that only starts paying attention to college hoops after the football season and only remembers what happens during the NCAA tournament. I'm from the camp that values the entire season and doesn't really care what a college player does once he goes to the NBA.
I love March, and I love how the NCAA tournament has become a national phenomenon, but I don't have much patience for people who are saying, in effect, that I'm wasting my time following college hoops from November through February too. Many of my best memories of the sport come from those months, including the Morrison-Redick storyline, which deserves to be called the story of the season (no matter what happens in the NCAA tournament).
Is there a college basketball analogy to Crash winning best picture? It couldn't be an undeserving team winning a title (e.g. Villanova in '85) since that's not subjective. Any previous POY or COY parallels? -- Chris Maier, Las Vegas, Nev.
There really aren't any direct hoops comparisons, since I can't recall a Player or Coach of the Year recipient who wasn't among the top-25 deserving candidates for the award. (Zing!) I've already written at length about my criticisms of Crash, so I won't expound anymore here, but I would say that national Coach of the Year is hardly a predictor of future success -- or even job security. (See Matt Doherty and Larry Eustachy.)
Who were the four other candidates to receive votes in the 67-player SI Player of the Year poll? -- Tommy McGreal, Chicago, Ill.
Redick and Morrison combined for 60 of the 67 votes, while the rest went to: Duke's Shelden Williams (2), Illinois' Dee Brown (2), UConn's Marcus Williams (2) and UConn's Rudy Gay (1).
A couple weeks ago, I was ecstatic when I realized that Ohio State could get a No. 2 seed in the tourney. Now I'm wondering what would it take for the Buckeyes to nab a No. 1 seed? -- Caleb Waltz, Baltimore, Md.
My sense is that Ohio State would have to win the Big Ten tournament while Memphis and Texas fall short of winning their league tourneys. Do-able? Yes. Likely? No. (Does anyone envision Memphis losing at home in C-USA?) In truth, though, there's very little difference between having a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed.
After reading Frank Deford's article on the missing Catholic powers I wanted your opinion on a future possibility. Rumors abound that that the current Big East set-up will dissolve in four to five years and be divided along football and basketball lines. With the basketball-only schools being Catholic, do you see a situation in which there is an entirely new conference formed with the Big East teams (Marquette, Villanova, Providence, DePaul, etc.) joining the likes of St. Louis or Loyola or Xavier to create a sort of maximized version of the WCC? -- Joe, Chicago, Ill.
Rumors abound, huh? I'd never heard of these abounding rumors, but I will say that I like the idea. The Big East is clearly too big, and breaking off the hoops-only Catholic schools would help competitive balance by allowing for home-and-home conference schedules. While we're at it, since you mentioned the WCC, we could move Gonzaga into the new Catholic league and find the right home for the Zags.
Before the first Florida State game, Duke had shot 96 more free throws than its ACC opponents. Since that FSU game -- the "ref controversy" game -- Duke has only shot three more free throws than its ACC opponents. Has the backlash from that game influenced the refs to call Duke games differently? -- Wilson III, Greensboro, N.C.
It sure seems like it. This is one of those cases when a much talked-about perception (Duke gets all the calls) got something close to an official stamp of approval and has since had a clear impact on the way Duke games are refereed. I compare it to what happens at every World Cup in soccer, when the world governing body issues its version of a "point of emphasis" (e.g., no tackles from behind) and referees go way too far to the other extreme, ejecting players for offenses that would never have come close to being red cards before.
If Rudy Gay plays on a team more dependent on him for scoring, does he get mentioned in the same breath as Morrison and Redick for player of the year? -- J.P., Toronto, Ont.
Perhaps. People always talk about how certain players need to find "the right situation" to succeed in the NBA, but the same goes for the college game. You could probably make the same comparison between two ACC freshmen, Duke's Josh McRoberts (who clearly deferred to Redick and Shelden Williams this season) and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (who deferred to, well, nobody). At the same time, potential is not the same thing as production, and I'd still like to see Rudy Gay produce more in March. It's not a good sign for him that UConn's go-to guy these days is Marcus Williams.
I keep seeing all of these mid-major teams like Bucknell, Nevada and George Mason hanging on the fringe of the Top 25 and a team like George Washington slowly rising to the top of the polls. Do any of these teams have a legitimate shot at making a serious run (past the Sweet Sixteen) in the NCAA tournament? -- Fence Somerset, Mass.
Of those teams, I'd say Nevada and GW have a shot to reach, say, the final eight. I like the run that Nevada has been on over the past month or so, and the Wolf Pack have both a true star (Nick Fazekas) and the NCAA tournament experience to make a nice run. GW stubbed its toe against Temple in the wild and crazy A-10 tourney on Thursday, but a first-round A-10 tourney loss in 2004 didn't keep Saint Joseph's from going on a deep NCAA run. And while I don't consider these Colonials to be quite the team St. Joe's was two years ago, I do think their up-tempo style will be a difficult challenge for tourney foes. (It would help to have a healthy Pops Mensah-Bonsu too.)
As reader Mike Koivisto of Winston-Salem, N.C., pointed out, the excellent movie Junebug was set in Pfaff, N.C., not Asheville. (My bad.)